European Challenge Cup: Worcester Warriors 33-20 Newport Gwent Dragons

Prop Val Rapava Ruskin crossed for Worcester in time added on at the end of the first half
Worcester prop Val Rapava Ruskin crossed for the Warriors in time added on at the end of the first half
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Worcester (7) 33
Tries: 2 penalty tries, Rapava Ruskin, Hammond, Stelling Cons: Braid 4
Newport Gwent Dragons (6) 20
Tries: Hewitt 2 Cons: O'Brien 2 Pens: O'Brien Drop goal: O'Brien

Worcester kept their slim European hopes alive with a great second-half comeback to beat Newport Gwent Dragons.

Entering the final minute before the break, Warriors trailed 6-0 to a drop goal and a penalty from Angus O'Brien.

But prop Val Rapva Ruskin's converted try got them going - and the home pack took total control after the interval.

Winger Dean Hammond and centre Max Stelling both scored, either side of two penalty tries, before Ashton Hewitt's two late tries for Dragons.

Stand-off O'Brien converted both for an individual 10-point haul, while his opposite number, Canadian international Connor Braid, landed four of his five conversion attempts, on his Warriors debut.

Warriors won despite being temporarily being reduced to 13 men in the first half, when Sam Betty and Christian Scotland-Williamson were both shown yellow cards.

In miserable, wet conditions, the Dragons also picked up two yellow cards, in the second half. But bloodbin replacement Leon Brown's came just as Brok Harris was about to return to the pitch, leaving them only one man short - although, for fully 20 minutes, during which time the home pack dominated,

Worcester started the day bottom of Pool Three, having narrowly lost both their first two group games, to Russian side Enisei and Brive, in October. But following Enisei's 43-8 defeat at Brive earlier in the day, the group now looks wide open again.

Warriors, who now meet Dragons again in the reverse fixture at Rodney Parade on Friday, are now within two points of Brive and Enisei - and two clear of the Welsh side.

Worcester centre Max Stelling ran in his third try of the season prior to Aston Hewitt's two late consolation efforts for Newport Gwent Dragons
Max Stelling ran in his third try of the season prior to Ashton Hewitt's two late consolation efforts

Worcester backs coach Sam Vesty told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"Giving away silly penalties puts pressure on and it is important that we minimise them as it gave the Dragons a leg up in that first half.

"But our front row, second row and back row, all those boys turned up and were physical.

"And we have just got to reproduce that consistency next Friday night and in the next three Premiership games too."

Worcester Warriors: Adams; Howard, Stelling, Mills (capt), Hammond; Braid, de Cothi; Rapava Ruskin, Singleton, Alo, Spencer, Scotland-Williamson, Betty, Kirwan, Cox.

Replacements: Daniels for Alo (60), Bower (for Rapava Ruskin, 60), Taylor (for Betty, 65), Hewitt (for Kirwan, 69), Short (for Adams, 73), Williams (for Singleton, 73),

Not used: Kitchener, Shillcock.

Sin bin: Betty (11), Scotland-Williamson (18).

Newport Gwent Dragons: Prydie; Morgan, Beard, Warren, Hewitt; O'Brien, Pretorius; Price, Buckley, Harris, Screech, Hill, Thomas, Cudd, Evans (capt).

Replacements: Hobbs (for Price, 45), Landman (for Hill, 45). Brown (for Thomas, 48), Knoyle (for Pretorius, 49), Dee (for Buckley, 52), Dixon (for Beard, 52), G Jones (for Warren, 69).

Not used: Keddie.

Sin bin: Harris (48), Brown (58).

Referee: Thomas Charabas (France).

Assistant referees: Sebastien Minery (France), Luc Ramos (France).

Citing Commissioner: Francesco Grillo (Italy).

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